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Last Thursday, Hillary Clinton amended her tax platform that included higher taxes on estates.

Ms. Clinton previously announced her estate tax plan as a reduction in the estate tax exemption from $5.45 million to $3.5 million (from $10.9 million to $7 million for married couples) and an increase in the estate tax rate from 40% to 45%.

Added to her plan Thursday was a 50% tax rate for estates above $10 million, a 55% tax for estates over $50 million, and a 65% tax for estates above $500 million.

Additionally, Ms. Clinton proposed repealing a rule that allows cost basis to “step-up” in the event of death.  Currently, heirs don’t pay capital gains tax on the appreciated assets of the deceased.  Ms. Clinton’s plan would mean heirs would inherit capital gains tax obligations after paying estate taxes.

Ms. Clinton also proposed tax increases, including a 4% increase on income over $5 million a year, higher capital gains rates on assets held for between two and six years, and a minimum 30% tax rate for incomes $1 million (the so-called “Buffett Rule.”  Additional limits on deductions for higher earners would also apply.

The news, along with general expectations of a Clinton win in November, should accelerate estate plan changes in 2016 for some high net worth individuals, including utilizing the currently-higher lifetime gift exemption in order to lower future estate taxes.  Families with businesses have additional incentive to do some estate planning and even gift business ownership to their heirs:  the so-called minority-discount rule is set to be repealed next year with a proposed IRS rule change.  (See previous post on this.)

With a little more than three months left in 2016, those for whom these tax and rule changes apply should start the discussion now.

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